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Mozilla Firefox is the recommended Web browser for use on Mac OS X, Windows, and other platforms. Here is an introductory page. Mozilla Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) is a stable Firefox release which receives the same security updates as the standard version of Firefox but doesn't receive feature updates. It is intended for use by universities, businesses, and others who need extended support for mass deployments. Carleton ITS pushes Firefox ESR and updates through KBox.

The current version of Firefox ESR is 10.0.5.

For more information, see here.

Why Firefox ESR?

Firefox ESR was introduced as an option for organizations that were struggling to keep up with the rapid release plan and limited extended support of the standard browser. Additionally, Firefox 10 supports the same addons used at Carleton that were supported in Firefox 3.6 but not necessarily in Firefox 4 through 9.

Version History

Versions of Firefox through 3.6.18 were introduced slowly, with updates (patches) to change minor versions (e.g., 3.6.3→3.6.4) and new releases to upgrade to new major versions (e.g., 3.5.x→3.6.x). Starting with version 4.0, Mozilla changed this policy, aggressively releasing new major versions for consumers every six weeks, at the same time dropping support for older versions and seldom releasing security patches. On the day each new consumer version is released, the previous consumer version is considered "end-of-life", receiving no more security updates.

Because many organizations and software developers struggled with the new rapid release plan, in January of 2012, Mozilla introduced a new update channel, Extended Support Release. The ESR version of Firefox 10, intended for enterprises, reached end-of-life November 20, 2012 (when version 17 ESR is released), and received security updates as minor releases (e.g. 10.0.1, 10.0.2). Every six weeks, when a major new consumer version is released, the ESR version will also receive a minor upgrade for security only, not for new features. At the end of life of version 3.6, Firefox 10 ESR was the new stable release channel, and the one preferred at Carleton. At the end of life of version 10esr, Firefox 17esr was the new stable release channel, and the one preferred at Carleton. At the end of life of version 17esr, on December 10, 2013, Firefox 24esr was the new stable release channel, and the one preferred at Carleton. At the end of life of version 24esr, expected October 14, 2014, Firefox 31esr will be the new stable release channel, and the one preferred at Carleton.

We need to draw this distinction between "supported" (3.6.x, then 10.0.x ESR then 17.0.x esr then 24.x.x esr then 31.x.x esr) and "new" (4/5/6/7/8/9/11/12/13/14/15/16/18/19/...) consumer versions because of compatibility problems. More and more of our enterprise applications are Web-based, using a Web browser as their user interface and launch point. A few applications, most notably AWA (Advance Web Application) and WebCheckout, are sensitive to the Web browser and version. Therefore, ITS is going to provide an ESR replacement for consumer versions of Firefox. Note that earlier versions 2.x, 3.0.x, 3.5.x, and 3.6.x are obsolete, no longer supported and no longer receiving security updates.

Product Details

  • Firefox is an open source project of the Mozilla Foundation.
  • The Firefox home page, a starting point for all things Firefox
  • The Mozilla Firefox ESR home page
  • The Firefox 4/5/6/... support home page, a starting point for questions

System Requirements

Here are the system requirements for these new versions. In general, all you need is a fairly new operating system.

Licensing Information

As open source software, Firefox is freely distributable for individuals and organizations.

Home Use

We recommend Firefox for use on home computers. Get it from the Firefox home page or here .

Lab and Classroom Availability

Firefox is available on all college-owned machines in all labs and classrooms. As of summer 2014, it will be version 31esr.

Installation Instructions

Labs and Classrooms

To request this software be installed on a refreshing lab/classroom contact xxx

Link to protected information for how we configured it to work

College Owned Equipment

Firefox is available through our campus KBOX software distribution system. The Windows versions are visible in the KBOX user portal to all users, who may contact the ITS HelpDesk to get this installed on any college-owned computer.

Windows Upgrade (or downgrade) of any version of Firefox to new supported version 31esr:
    1. From the KBOX user portal, choose "Install Mozilla Firefox 31.x.z", which is the ESR release as the description indicates.
    2. Firefox should be updated to the very latest 31.x.z ESR version the next time that KBOX patching is run. To update it immediately, login as a Windows Administrator-equivalent and launch Firefox; from the Firefox dropdown menu at the upper left of the browser window, choose Help→About Firefox, then choose the Check for Updates button.
    3. If Firefox advises you to update any plugins (e.g., Java, Adobe Reader, Flash), look for those plugins first in the KBOX user portal list. Most plugins are also updated by KBOX patching.
    4. Note: This is only for machines with an existing version of Firefox installed, older or newer. For a machine with no version of Firefox installed, from the KBOX Admin UI, find the Managed Install (MI) named "Install anew Firefox 31esr", add this machine to the section titled, "Limit Deployment to Listed Machines", and Save. After the MI runs (which takes a while), remember to return to this MI and remove this machine from the list.

If you have the Firefox you want for Windows but are missing the Carleton bookmarks and customizations, copy carleton-cck.xpi from SWARCHIVE\OriginalMedia\Firefox (or maybe find it under C:\ProgramData\Dell\KACE\downloads) to some location on the local machine, then start Firefox and Open (Ctrl-O) that file from where you copied it. When prompted, choose Install, then when offered a chance, choose Restart Firefox. This also works on personal machines running Windows.

Link to protected information for ITS instructions

Personal Machines

Get it from the Firefox home page or here , and install it in the default directory.Use the File→Import command to copy options, bookmarks, history, passwords, and other form data from another Web browser or another Firefox profile.

Who To Call

The ITS HelpDesk fully supports the use of Firefox on Windows and Mac OS X. The KBOX package for Mac OS X was prepared by Rebecca Barkmeier in Desktop Systems.

S.Nissen originally authored the Windows information in this article, but after April 1, 2015, Rebecca Barkmeier will be responsible for the packaging of this application for Windows, so all questions should be directed to her.

Questions, Tips and Tricks

#1 help tip:

You just upgraded to Firefox 4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/..., and you don't see the toolbars you used to see. To get them back on Windows, press an Alt key, which will display the menu bar, from which you can choose View→Toolbars to turn any of the toolbars on or off. (You can also move the Tabs toolbar down from the top using View→Toolbars→Tabs on Top.) To get back more 3.6-like features, see the extensions discussed here .

For a visual guide to the changes between version 3.6.* and 10 ESR, see this article.

#2 help tip:

NEW: You just upgraded to Firefox 31 or later (from a version before 29), and you hate the new Australis user interface which lacks the orange Firefox menu button in the title bar at the upper left. You can get back that menu button, as well as other pre-Australis features, by installing and configuring the extension "Classic Theme Restorer", available from here. Note that ITS does not support this extension or provide it on public lab computers. But the new triple dash menu button (≡) toward the right end of the toolbar offers some of the features you may be missing.


NEW: Firefox 10 esr implemented a new feature called the blocklist: Firefox contacts Mozilla (about once a day) to see if any of its installed plugins (like Flash, Java, Adobe Reader) are on the blocklist, and if so, disables them. The blocklist is a list of specific plugin versions that are no longer current and known to be vulnerable to security exploits. Firefox 17 esr changes that with a new prompt they call "Click-To-Play": if a plug-in is on the blocklist but it gets invoked by a Web page, Firefox will prompt the user whether they want to load the unsafe plugin anyway. You can read more about how Click-to-Play works, or what to do when you are prompted.

Firefox and Java (JRE)

As more and more Java exploits have been discovered, the makers of Firefox, Mozilla, have made it more and more difficult to run Java in Firefox at all. Starting with Firefox versions 24 and 24esr, every version of Java, even the very latest version, may be blocked, and there may be no "Click-To-Play" prompt to get around the block. The only workaround for a user is to enable Java for a particular Web site, using these instructions: . Please do this only if you know a Web site requires Java to function. It may be easier just to use a different Web browser for your Java-based Web sites.

PDF documents in Firefox

NEW: PDF documents are sometimes known as Adobe (or Acrobat) documents, a format designed for viewing and printing pages. Starting with Firefox 24esr, Firefox has its own built-in PDF viewer (based on JavaScript), so it no longer invokes the default PDF reader on the computer.

If you save a PDF file to the local hard drive, then double-click to open it, the default PDF reader on this computer will always be invoked. On Windows, the default PDF reader is likely to be Adobe Reader; on Macs, it could be Adobe Reader, or more likely the Viewer application. On Windows 8.*, it might be the built-in Reader app.

It is possible to change Firefox settings to restore the default PDF viewer to work inside of Firefox:

  1. In Firefox, open a new tab and in the Location textbox, enter: about:config
  2. In the Search textbox at the top, type pdfjs . This will filter the list of settings so you can see the setting pdfjs.disabled. Double-click that setting to change its value from false to true.
  3. Back in the Search textbox, type plugin.   . This will filter the list of settings so you can see the setting plugin.disable_full_page_plugin_for_types . Double-click that setting so you can edit it. Copy the entire string then paste it into an empty text or note file, so you can restore it if necessary.
  4. Somewhere in that long string setting, probably at the end, is the value application/pdf; remove that value. (Or you can empty the whole string.)
  5. Exit Firefox and restart it, then find a PDF file on the Web. It should now open in your default PDF reader.
  6. If you don't like the options presented for opening your default PDF reader, these instructions explain how to change those settings.

Caution: Any time you are making changes to the settings in about:config, a mistake in the wrong place could break Firefox. So be very careful in what you edit, and save copies and notes of what you did.

Technical Troubleshooting

Firefox stores all its bookmarks, cookies, etc. for a user in a Firefox profile, which on Windows is a directory in the %UserProfile% , under %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\profiles. (In other words, one user may have multiple Firefox profiles.) Firefox prefers to randomly name that directory, but on college-owned computers, with Firefox 3.6 and 10ESR we try to force the name to be 00000000.default. Here is the Firefox support explanation.

In the process of installing a different version of Firefox, the user might get a new empty profile which does not have his saved bookmarks, cookies, etc. Those are still on the computer, just in a different Firefox profile. If you can locate that other Firefox profile directory by looking for the recently modified files, you can import those settings (or copy those files) to the active Firefox profile. On Windows, to tell which is the active Firefox profile for a user, look at the text file %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\profiles.ini; in the [Profile0] section, the Path= line will point to the active profile; e.g., Path=Profiles/00000000.default , which means %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\00000000.default. This Firefox support article identifies the specific files you can copy, but I find it easier and safer just to use the Import command, from either the File menu, or from History→Show All History→Import and Backup→Import Data from Another Browser....

At any time, if Firefox is not recognizing all installed plugins, on Windows exit Firefox and delete the file pluginreg.dat from %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox. The next time you start Firefox, that file will be rebuilt. For more information on troubleshooting plugin problems, see this Firefox support article.

Having problems scrolling vertically, when using a Lenovo ThinkPad or other Synaptics touchpad? This is a known bug, so try adjusting a Firefox setting, while logged in as the user:
"Modify the pref ui.trackpoint_hack.enabled on the about:config page from the default value -1 to 0 or 1 to see if that makes the scroll pad work. Close and restart Firefox after changing the pref, as described here: "

In Firefox 24 and later, do your text fonts look fuzzier than in earlier versions? (text on Web pages, not in PDF documents) Try these three possible fixes, one at a time:

  1. Choose Firefox→Options→Options→Advanced→General and uncheck "Use hardware acceleration when available". If that did not fix it, put the setting back the way it was.
  2. Enter about:config on the Location line, then on the Search line enter; double-click it in the Preference List to change it from true to false. If that did not fix it, put the setting back the way it was.
  3. Enter about:config on the Location line, then on the Search line enter gfx.direct2d.disabled; double-click it in the Preference List to change it from false to true. If that did not fix it, put the setting back the way it was.